The walls stopped shaking and the cracks stopped running up to the ceiling and the old plaster stopped flaking and the girl had hardly caught her breath before she was off the narrow bed and was making swishing and scrambling sounds. When she snapped the lightswitch and the boy recovered from his momentary blindness, he saw that her jeans were already on and she was pulling her sweatshirt over her head. Dark streaks where none had been before marked her cheeks when her face appeared and she tugged the shirt down. You better learn this ain’t supposed to be a hurting match Bambo she said. This ain’t a game of beat your snatch.
What? he said.
I said this ain’t supposed to hurt Bambo. What the fuck you think this is all about, huh? You think I’m a fuckin dog carcass or something that you need to train on to be the middleweight champion of the world? Her bronze face was a mishmash of hurt and terror and anger, nothing subtle.
Bambo didn’t know what to say. What? What? . . .
The girl rushed five barefoot steps to the bed, leaned down to his face. You think I’m a fuckin hassock with a hole in it that you can take your frustrations out on? Does it make you feel like a man to treat me that way? She straightened up and pounded the air with her fists, tears were falling and her full red lips contorted. Do you think it’ll make your dick bigger if you beat me up while you’re fucking me? What do you think?
What are you talking about he whined. What’s wrong with my dick?
She backed up, took a couple of steps to her left, half turned and swirled back. Nothin wrong with your dick Bambo. But it sure ain’t a man’s eight inches.
He propped himself on his elbow, an amazed look on his face. So? he said.
So? So? she mimicked. So do you think your dick will get four inches longer if you treat me like a a a fuckin pumpkin? She rushed to him again, tearing her arm out of her threadbare sweater, look at that she said, she thrust her arm at his face, twisted it around, he saw the marks, the faintly forming bruises, she didn’t leave it there long enough for him to count them, and look at this she said, she tore at her frayed belt, fumbled with the zipper of her jeans and let out a throaty cry when it resisted, there she said when her pants dropped to her knees, look at that. He saw purple on her upper thighs, she pointed at the largest and snuffled as she pulled down her beige panties, and look she said, her voice cracking on the word look, and she framed the spreading contusion covering her hipbone with her hands.
I did that he asked softly. Did I do that? He reached tentatively to touch it. With a sharp intake of breath she leaped away and redressed herself. Stay away from me Bambo she said. The other guys never treated me like this. They may be rough and they may be dumb, but they never hurt me. Never. Surveying the floor, she pumped her fists and cried where are my shoes, where the hell are my shoes? Oh she whimpered, she wheeled around and raced to the door, she unbolted it and pulled it violently open and ran out of the room and he heard her feet pounding on the way down the stairs. He heard voices down there, an occasional outburst of female anguish, male voices too. Did I do that he asked himself.
This was only his second stab at this game and Bambo was scared. The first time he had bungled and botched until he let Carly guide him, grateful as a puppy, and he knew he didn’t hurt her, and she praised him copiously while stroking his face and he had never known such a sensation could be had. He had looked at her smooth firm face, her amused and quite pleased eyes, smelled her earthy breath, her sweaty hair, and he wanted to languish there, weakly slip away, wake up to the next time. That was last week. Sweet Carly had smiled then, her approval of her initiate’s performance evident in her playful hazel eyes. It was a little too quick she had declared, but you felt good and you made me come and I liked the things you said. He had been pretty proud of himself, had told a few guys from his own neighborhood, was it really good they’d asked, a lot better than wanging off he’d answered.
He was still under the sheet, still propped on an elbow, dumbstruck and empty, when Brutes appeared in the doorway, strode to the bed. His name was Bruce, but no one dared call him Bruce, Brutes was more suitable, he towered over Bambo’s bedside smoothfaced and slick, sideburns down to his jaw. Bambo shook his head, widened his eyes, flashed to a recall of Brute’s clambering noise on the stairs and his approaching footfalls in his heavy thickheeled boots.
Maybe you’d better get going Bambo he said.
Shit, Then, really? He looked from Brutes to a framed photograph of an oldtime Jeep Wagoneer one of the gang had stolen, the only break in the dead pastiness of the wall behind Brutes. Yeah Brutes said, he gestured with his thumb, you better get your ass outa here before Pauly comes. He pulled deeply on a cigarette.
Pauly? What’s Pauly got to do with anything?
You don’t know? How come you don’t know? Pauly takes care of Carla. He don’t like to see her hurt.
But I didn’t mean to hurt her.
I didn’t mean to hurt her he repeated to himself. All he had wanted was to feel all this smooth pliant firmness, this fictile pulp, all he had wanted was to bore into it, sink into it, pecker tongue fingers and teeth, and when his fingers each with a mind of its own felt the inevitable resistance of bones the other side of flesh they squeezed all the harder, tried to mash those bones like squash, tried to constrict them like a sponge, he remembered it all now replayed it all, then he balled up those fingers and hands and tried to pound them into something, some new mass, some kind of inexplicable and indescribable form, some palpable manifestation of all the rage and grief and terror that sneered at him each morning upon waking and bellowed in his shallow sleep at night, pummeling and kneading, the riotous currents in his body surging and crackling like July thunder.
Pauly’s out of jail?
Been out for a week Brutes said, he looks bad as hell, only a stubble of hair on his whole head, you better get outa here man, she might call him, maybe already did, he offered a savvy nod and put the cigarette between his lips, turned and pounded away on the bare floor.